Hundreds if not thousands of recordings of Robert Schumann's Dichterliebe and Liederkreis song cycles are on the market. The combination of Heinrich Heine's bittersweet texts and Schumann's psychologically penetrating settings has exercised a lasting fascination. German tenor Maximilian Schmitt takes a couple of directions in attempting to set himself apart from the crowd. The first is simply an attempt to give his remarkably energetic young voice room to move. There are subtler readings of these two cycles available, but few that one can imagine filling a large hall so effective as Schmitt moves up to a high B flat without either straining or losing control. The second and more significant innovation here is the inclusion of three Heine settings by Clara Schumann, which sound very little like either her husband's music or the limpid songs of Schubert, which Clara must have known well. Sample the Clara Schumann version of Lorelei, which was already a well-worn poem by the 1840s. Without violating its simple strophic structure, she imparts a vivid dramatic aspect to the poem. Schmitt's voice is perfectly suited to these expansive songs, and they're a real highlight of the album. Others include the quiet but always contributing accompaniment of pianist Gerold Huber and the engineering from Oehms Classics, which nicely captures the dimensions of the various performances. If Schmitt's instrument is one that's still in the process of developing new shades, it is already notable in several respects.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Dichterliebe, Op. 48|
|Liederkreis, Op. 24|